Ryan Says He and Trump Have Talked 'Extensively' About Separation of Powers

Ryan Says He and Trump Have Talked 'Extensively' About Separation of Powers
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) departs a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Dec. 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said he and President-elect Donald Trump have talked “extensively” about “the Constitution, Article I in the Constitution, the separation of powers.”

Ryan told 60 Minutes in an interview aired Sunday that he believes Trump “understands there’s a Constitution, and that those separate but equal branches of government give us a limited government.”

He said it “was pretty much the day after the election, or maybe two days after the election, and we basically decided to let bygones be bygones” on their past clashes, including Ryan’s June statement that Trump’s remarks about an ethnic Mexican judge being unable to rule fairly in his fraud trial were the “textbook definition” of racism.

Ryan said the first item on the agenda is Obamacare repeal, but “we want to make sure that we have a good transition period so that people can get better coverage at a better price.” He couldn’t say whether that would be a period of months or years.

Republicans want to keep the more popular aspects of Obamacare, including ensuring that people aren’t rejected for coverage because of pre-existing conditions and that children can stay on their parents’ plans until age 26. “We will give everyone access to affordable health care coverage,” he vowed.

Asked about illegal immigration, Ryan emphasized “we’re not working on a big deportation force.”

“Here’s what we’re working on with regards to immigration: securing our border, enforcing our current laws. He talked about criminal aliens. That’s just enforcing laws for people who came here illegally, came and committed violent crimes. We should enforce those laws, but really what we’re focused on is securing our border,” he said.

On Trump’s promise of a border wall, Ryan said “conditions on the ground determine what you need in a particular area.”

“Some places need a wall, some area might need double fencing,” he added.

One of the House speaker’s main priorities, which received scant mention on the campaign trail, remains entitlement reform. “If you want to think of the fire that’s burning, it is the fact that the baby boomer generation — no offense; there’s a lot of you,” Ryan said. “…I haven’t even discussed this with Donald Trump yet. But it is an issue that we have to tackle.”

Ryan said he has “no way of backing” Trump’s Twitter claim that he “won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”

“It doesn’t matter to me. He won the election.”